Tuesday 2 September 2014

A New York Winter's Tale

A New York Winter's Tale is a strange film. Directed by award winning filmmaker Akiva Goldsman (Oscar winner for Best Screenplay) and featuring a great cast of stars, it’s a whimsical modern day fairy tale with aspects that appeal to everyone. It all sounds great on paper, but when translated to film it just doesn’t quite work.

The film’s time hopping plot starts out in the late 1800’s and we meet a young boy arriving in New York. The boy grows up into Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) a thief under the charge of a gangster/demon called Pearly Soames played by Russell Crowe. Peter falls in love with a local rich woman dying of consumption after a horse tells him to break into a certain house, which is as stupid as it sounds, and Peter realises he has powers of resurrection. Pearly turns against Peter, for not very fleshed out reasons, and starts chasing him down. Saying much else would spoil the plot but it eventually ends up with Pearly and Peter wandering around New York until 2014, where Peter meets another love interest.

The film’s immediate draw, of a fairy tale that goes through time, is also its biggest downfall. The most interesting aspects such as Pearly’s demon gang and the world of the demons is unfortunately ignored in favour of a stale love story about characters you can’t drum up any emotion about. Colin Farrell tries but doesn’t really manage to inject much personality into the character of Peter and Russell Crowe as Pearly Soames is just laughably bad. Throughout the film he tries to do an Irish accent, but fails miserably, and through his ‘acting’ gives the impression he was only in the film for the pay-cheque. The love interests (Jessica Brown Findlay and Jennifer Connelly) don’t do much better either, each not getting enough screen time to be at all interesting. The only cast member that’s good, or perhaps that’s so bad he’s good, is Will Smith in his surprising cameo as the Devil. His scene is only short but it’s so ridiculous it instantly becomes the most memorable scene in an otherwise dull film.

The direction of the film is also nothing special, with Goldsman directing with little flair or interest, occasionally making the film feel cheap. At times the film looks more like a lesser episode of Doctor Who than a Hollywood production. The Hans Zimmer score is equally disappointing, sounding unfortunately generic, almost as if Zimmer knew not to put much effort in on this one. It’s not to say everything about the film is completely crap though, most of it is, but it does have a few good moments. William Hurt’s short appearance is good, and er… the special effects aren’t always completely terrible and er… well, that’s about it. It would probably be best to not go into A New York Winter’s Tale with any sort of expectations. If you approach the film expecting it to be ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ you’ll probably be more entertained. Russell Crowe is Les Mis level hammy, Will Smith is hilarious and don’t get me started on the damn magic horse. Unfortunately the film sometimes can’t even muster up the energy be just plain bad, and settles to be just boring instead.

If you like one or more of the actors in the film, then maybe you should check out A New York Winter’s Tale, just don’t expect anything good. In fact, on occasion the film is actually ‘so-bad-it’s-good’, which I suppose is another reason to check it out. But unless you’re absolutely desperate I won’t recommend checking out A New York Winter’s Tale, go and watch a good fairy tale film like Stardust instead.

A New York Winter’s Tale gets a disappointing 2/5.


Tom Bumby

A New York Winter's Tale at CeX

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